Boards tend to pause leadership successions during turbulent times, and 2020 was no exception. Globally, CEO transitions fell 42% from the first to second half of the year as the economic strain of Covid-19 intensified. The trend varied by region, based on the timing of Covid-19 outbreaks. During the past three recessions, CEO transitions fell by as much as one-third from their precrisis high. Boards often choose one of their own as a steady hand in a crisis. In 2020, a record share of the US CEO successions involved a board director moving into the CEO role. CEO successions are likely to pick up this year in tandem with the overall economic recovery.
CEO transitions are likely to pick up by mid-2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic wanes.